John Boreland murder: History of loyalist tensions in north Belfast

Andre Shoukri
Andre Shoukri

Tensions within loyalist paramilitarism and criminality are among lines of inquiry police are following regarding the murder of loyalist John Boreland.

The PSNI said that Mr Boreland, who was murdered on Sunday in north Belfast, had been warned by police about his safety within the past few months.

Police said early indications are that the murder of Mr Boreland, known to be Andre Shoukri’s right-hand man, was not a sectarian attack.

A statement on the North Belfast Facebook site of the UDA-linked UPRG expressed deepest sympathies to Mr Boreland’s family.

“The cowardly act which resulted in John’s death does not sit easy within our organisation,” it said.

“However, as emotions run high we call for a period of calm and reflection, anyone with any information contact the PSNI or Crimestoppers.

“Rest easy big ‘Bonzer’, we won’t forget you or those who brought this upon you. QUIS SEPERABIT.”

Another source said: “There have been increasing media reports in recent weeks that things were coming to the boil in loyalist circles in the area. There has been a history of division in north Belfast UDA.

“North Belfast would be offered up in loyalist circles as to how not to excommunicate renegade criminal elements from the organisation, because when this was attempted in north Belfast the result was a split and two camps.

“One became an organised crime gang that Bonzer was in, which was involved in extortion, racketeering and drugs.”

Another factor was that the UVF was trying to “divide and conquer UDA elements in the area and take over the patch” he said.

The murder could also have been carried out, he said, by “purely criminal elements” that Boreland may have clashed with, “for example the Russians or UVF”.

“The mainstream UDA had indicated that Boreland was not one of theirs – so it was clear he did not have the protection of that organisation. He could have been taken out by other outlaws.”

But a UVF source was adamant that it was not behind the killing.

“There was no quarrel with Boreland or UDA in this area – it looks like a UDA feud.

“These tensions have been going on for the last 10 years and relate to purging from within the UDA.”